Film Review: Miles Sanders is what Chicago Bears need at running back

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: Running back Miles Sanders of Penn State works out during day two of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 01: Running back Miles Sanders of Penn State works out during day two of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears have highlighted what they are looking for from a running back this year in the 2019 NFL Draft. Miles Sanders fits the mold

The Chicago Bears are going to draft a running back whether they trade Jordan Howard or not. At least that is what their message has been at the combine.

They met with multiple running backs and talked openly about what they were looking for in a back from this years draft.

If a three-down back with lateral agility at the second and third level as well as passing game impact is what they are looking for, then they described Miles Sanders.

Three down

Miles Sanders was only featured in an offense for one season. However, Saquan Barkley has a lot to do with that. Miles Sanders carried the ball 220 times and caught 24 passes last season. He showed that he can handle a workload and ran hard between the tackles, as shown in the play here.

Watch Sanders finish this run here. He shifts and wiggles between the tackles, gets  down hill and finishes by powering a defender into the end zone.

Lateral agility at the second and third level

That play also showed the quick feet and lateral agility to get into the open field. While Sanders can run between the tackles, his best attribute comes in his ability to make defenders miss laterally.

He can do it at the line of scrimmage, as shown here.

Miles Sanders can break runs at the second level, like this run. And he can get into the third level with balance. agility and quick feet like the play shown here. Sanders spins, gathers himself, regains speed and adds another lateral cut about ten more yards down the field.

If you are worried about the ability of Sanders to string moves together at any level look no further than this play. Sanders stops and jumps backwards before regaining balance to leap over a defender. Right.

Passing game

Sanders caught only 24 passes but could have been featured much more. The Chicago Bears admitted they are not looking for a check down pass catcher. In that regard, Sanders did plenty of work out of the slot.

Ignore the white circle on this play and watch Sanders at the top of the screen from the slot. Watch him break off of the line of scrimmage and beat his man deep down the field.

Miles Sanders has shown the ability to contort his body and make these types of catches down the field as highlighted in this play. Watch how smooth he transitions from pass catcher to runner.

While his route tree out of the slot was not exquisite, he ran a wider variety of passing routes than most others in this class. In this play you can see him plant his foot and release hard out of the backfield to create space.

To complete the package, he is a willing pass protector. This is a weapon in the passing game.


What could put the icing on the cake for Matt Nagy is the versatility that his passing game value brings. Penn State motioned Sanders in and out of the slot to help identify defensive coverages. Nagy lives off of versatile players setting up individual mismatches in coverage.

This is the chess piece that Sanders brings.  On this play Sanders is lined up in the slot and runs a jet sweep action.

Here, he motions into the backfield from the slot and takes a snap from the wildcat. Matt Nagy is salivating at the idea of Miles Sanders, Tarik Cohen, Tre Burton and Mitch Trubisky all being able to take snaps with the others in motion.

Next. Miles Sanders scouting report. dark

The Matt Nagy mold

The folks at DaBearsBlog did a great article highlighting the size and dimensions of running backs that Matt Nagy has been associated with in the past.

According to this research, which back is the best fit in the draft? You guessed it.


Miles Sanders is not a complete back by any stretch. In the thread of tweets you can see that he runs into his lineman at times, and can lack patience. He was caught from behind more than expected considering his timed speed, and has one of the highest fumble rates in the draft.

Still, a lot of his questions can come down to being raw at the college level and not seeing many carries in his first two seasons.

If the Chicago Bears are looking for a back who can compliment Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen with the potential to replace Howard as well, the back they are looking for is Miles Sanders.